Arizona polygamy case linked to Lincoln

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — An Arizona man is accused of taking 20 wives, many of whom were minors.

And new court documents link the case to Lincoln.

Samuel Bateman met several of his victims on trips to Lincoln in 2020. 

Bateman is the leader of a small polygamous group on the Arizona-Utah border.

He was a former member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, until he left in recent years and started his own group.

The fundamentalists are different from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which now strictly prohibits polygamy.

Bateman considered himself a prophet, and a Lincoln family followed his teaching.

Court documents say Bateman pressured a Lincoln man into giving him several underage daughters as wives.

Bateman was arrested in August after a report of a vehicle that appeared to be pulling a box trailer full of children.

Recently, federal authorities charged three of Bateman’s wives, including the Lincoln man’s daughter, with kidnapping and obstruction of justice when eight girls associated with the group fled from state foster care.

The girls were found in Washington state in a vehicle that the Lincoln man’s daughter was driving.

Anti-trafficking activists say sex trafficking is real in Lincoln.

Paul Yates, president of local organization I’ve Got a Name, pointed to research by Creighton University in 2016.

“It indicated that every 30-day period, in Lincoln, at least 200 girls were for sale individually,” he said. 

Back in October, the Lincoln Police Department said human trafficking rarely starts with kidnapping by a stranger. 

LPD released data that showed that 42% of sex trafficking victims were recruited by a family member and that 39% were recruited by an intimate partner or someone proposing marriage. 

Yates said most time people groom their victims and attack their vulnerabilities and fears. 

“They’re telling them all they want to hear, they manipulate them, they abduct them through their heart and through their mind,” he said. 

Yates says the community can help stop sex trafficking in our state by recognizing the signs. 

“It really is a challenge, but a lot of times, it’s behavior changes, suddenly a young girl becomes very isolated, is not talking to anyone.”

I’ve Got a Name has resources for victims on its website.

Also, victims can call the Nebraska trafficking hot line at 833-757-5665.

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